Jacques Bolelli, Director of the Atelier Simon Marq, the oldest traditional workshop for stained-glass window production and restoration gave French Heritage Society members a special guided visit of this workshop not normally open to the public. The long and ancient line of Simon stained-glass artists dates back to 1640.
As of 1957, the Atelier Simon Marq undertook to enrich the French religious heritage by initiating great contemporary artists into the art of the stained-glass window: Jacques Villon, Roger Bissière, Marc Chagall (whose windows for the Cathedral of Reims were produced at the atelier along with works at the United Nations headquarter in New York City and museums and collections across the world) George Braque, Serge Poliakoff, Joan Miró, Raoul Ubac, Maria Elena Vieira da Silva.
Mr. Bolelli is actively working to build-up the company, just a few short years ago facing the possibility of going out of business. In two years, it has grown from just three to eight skilled artisans. It is actually one of the four traditional high quality crafts companies that Mr. Bolelli has purchased in recent years under his umbrella company Fort Royal.
His goal is to maintain and preserve these gems of French creativity and allow them to live and expand by enhancing their management, opening them up to new outlets, and training new skilled craftsmen in order to continue offering the genuine quality of the original rather than a copy – and to preserve the timeless emotion of unique exquisitely crafted works.
The Atelier Simon Marq has a major project, now nearly completed, for a series of contemporary stained-glass windows at the church of Saint Joseph, just down the street from the atelier’s headquarters in Reims. The church is part of a private school, and an alumni association raised the funds for this three million euro restoration project and its new stained-glass windows.
But such projects are exceptional, and Bolelli gets more orders from abroad than in France. A surprise customer was actor Brad Pitt who showed up at the atelier after learning about their exceptional stained-glass from an architect.
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